Keep the Faith,
All photo credits (besides #1 already noted) belong to Eric and Audrey Ann Masur. Please do not copy unless given permission.
And I think about my soul and every soul, bound, captive before Jesus Christ. The liberation He offers is perfect and beautiful, because our captivity to sin is horrific. But sometimes I forget that He is our only hope. Sometimes I think that people earn their favor with God by being nice and obeying all the rules.
The lie about soul liberation is that we can earn it.
We churched ones can grow up wearing the idea, wearing it like clothing against our chests, that people can attain perfection in and of themselves. Every day we have donned these rags. Others earn our respect based on how well they obey all the rules–or how much it looks like they are, and we earn theirs the same way.
This garment is tight and restricting; we are suffocated, our breath of joy restrained. Too distracted by these binding clothes to understand true love, we are robbed of knowing who Jesus is.
Legalism can be accidental, but it is still deadly.
We believe there is a formula, a checklist, that if followed, will constitute success, respect, forgiveness. The formula becomes our god, the checklist our security blanket.
Bowing to the religion of us, we forget.
“For it is by grace…” Grace, this warrior word that defies our human prejudices and presuppositions. Grace that crashes us to our knees in relief. On our knees has always been our strongest place, because it is the place where His hand extends.
But sometimes I avoid it, because I prefer to make it about me. Grace is always about Jesus.
The joy of Jesus’ death and resurrection is that we needed it. If we could earn our way there, what does the rest even mean?
Does His grace demand our love and, in turn, obedience? Of course. But the fight for the liberation of our souls has already been fought on the cross (Romans 10:9-10, Philippians 3:4-11). And that is a reason to surrender and celebrate!
Keep the Faith,
Photo credit: http://www.nps.gov
Photo Credit: nymag.com, photographer: Henry Leutwyler
When I was a teenager, I came across a 1st edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette. Being a lover of old books, I glanced through it and was overwhelmed with all the details and rules about how to conduct oneself in society, how to set a table, how to do nearly everything, it seemed.
Several years later my interest in the subject grew, and I was encouraged by a dear friend who is a certified Protocol and Etiquette consultant (you should visit her fabulous blog). I bought books and did research on all things “Protocol and Etiquette.” To my delight, I learned that etiquette is not merely about how to set a gorgeous table, but how to respect others and offer them kindness with everyday interactions.
On Guam there are many cultural differences, but kindness is universal. We all desire it, and we all have the potential to give it, if we make some effort. When I first came to Guam (about four years ago), I was excited to learn about new people and customs, but I was also afraid.
It seemed so easy to offend others, if I did not know their traditions. However, since I was a teacher, I was reminded through the interaction with my students that we all desire the same thing, no matter our culture or ethnicity: we all desire kindness.
Sometimes we read the news and feel baffled by all the negative events that are taking place in the world right now. But we should not forget that we, too, influence this world. Let’s influence it for good. Whether it’s holding the door, putting down your cellphone for a conversation, or smiling at a passing stranger, we can all help our island (and our world) be a kinder, well-mannered place.
However, how can you do this is in a multicultural setting? How do you have “good manners” when different social norms dictate different practices? While it would take many years to grasp all the nuances of the various cultures on Guam, there are certain manners than can transcend cultural boundaries, and help our island be an even lovelier place than it already is. It’s a fun challenge! The love of God extends throughout culture and color. Therefore, so should our kindness and awareness.
Manners matter because people matter. Although I have made (and will continue to make) mistakes with regard to manners, the goal is to keep learning and spreading kindness along the way. Emily Post said, “Manners are a sensitive awareness to the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”
Keep the Faith,
image credit: retroette.com
Besides the horrors of ISIS, Ebola, and the constant turmoil that is Washington D.C., two other stories have shoved to the front of the line. The first is about a young woman, Brittany Maynard, who is planning to legally take her life in a few weeks, and the other is about Jennifer Lawrence and how she addressed the nude pictures of herself that were shared against her will, saying that in a long distance relationship, either your boyfriend will view you or pornography.
First of all, let me be clear that I have NO IDEA what it must feel like to have terminal brain cancer, facing fears for your family and loved ones, and living with a body that is very much not under your control. And I am very sorry for Laurence and the embarrassment and pain this crime against her has caused. Both of these women seem to be seeking dignity with their lives, and seeking to help others who are having similar struggles. I commend them for that.
In certain articles, both of the stories included the word “Beautiful” in the titles. However, there is an underlying, sad kind of ugliness to them that cannot be masked with the false veil of heroism. The wrapping may be pretty, but the gift is a nightmare.
These stories have a common denominator: they both attempt to answer the question, “What does it mean to be human?” This is one of the BIG questions of life, a catch phrase in my Worldview class, and generally something I tend to throw into conversations only to hear a very loud lull.
But what does it mean to be human? If human life is all about what we want and how we choose to make ourselves happy, then why not end your life early, and why not send nude pictures across your phone or even share those photos with others? And as in the case of Maynard, you might financially help out your family. This could appear like a good choice, the right choice.
We as Americans are people of choice. Don’t you dare take away my choices, fool! This is ‘MURICA. I deserve my “me” time, my Starbucks, and my organic-super-expensive skincare. This is my body, and I can do what I want with it AND with any other life inside of it. So there.
But it doesn’t work that way. It just doesn’t. The truth is that our bodies are not our own. And this makes them infinitely more special than if they were just ours, mere accidents having evolved from oozing muck. Instead, we were purposely formed from the mire, each one of us known by the Creator. Our days are numbered by Him, and our bodies are supposed to be for His glory, not meat for men. God gave us a purpose and a role as unique, choice-making beings. This is what it means to be human.
“Planned dying” could lead the way for other horrors to be legalized or even mandated. These kind of stories tend to have a ripple effect. And you don’t have to show your boyfriend pornography of yourself to keep him. In fact, if he asks, you should certainly lose him…and fast.
Again, my heart goes out to both women. I wish I could tell them that Jesus Christ loves them, and and that there is another way, a better way. His always is.
Keep the Faith,
Photo Credit: Marvelous Things Photography by Tori Watson
There are many wonders about island life. There are also many lies. There’s this one about how I lie on the beach all day sipping smoothies to a live reggae band, breeze in my hair and enticing novel in my hand. But I don’t.
Perhaps once a month there will be a magical day like that, but most days are ordinary days, days much like anywhere else. I stand in grocery store lines and swerve to avoid hitting people in traffic. I feel too far from certain people I love.
I do laundry, make dinner for my husband, and sweep the floor. I yell at Sue (the dog) to stop barking at the poor cat who broke her leg and subsequently took Sue’s favorite shaded spot. And I open my arms wide, hoping to get some breeze. It can be so very hot. Shirts do not last me very long here. Just sayin’.
The island is great for adventure, from hiking, to snorkeling, to interacting with so many diverse cultures. I love it. However, it is not those activities that define my time here. It’s playing with my dog. It’s kissing my husband goodnight at the fire station and driving home alone. It’s laughing at the hilarious toddlers we teach in Sunday school who always think Eric is my dad.
There are days I have looked down into the sink and thought, what am I doing with my life?! And then God reminds me that living for Him involves the everyday things, the mundane things, the boring things.Sometimes those are the greatest mountains we can know.
All these “little tasks” are ways to take care of my family and can be ways of showing Christ’s love and commitment.
Am I doing these things with joy, with love for Him and trust in Him? Sure, wild adventures are great, but it seems to me that what defines a person’s character is not what they do when the epic music is playing in the background, but what they do when it’s not.
Those dishes matter. That laundry matters. They matter because the people using them matter. And while Jesus performed miracles for a few years, it seems that He spent most of His time on earth in His dad’s shop. Just remember that.
Keep the Faith,
Photo Credit: Google (free) Images/allkyhoops.com